Ref ‘at­tack’ blights Usuthu

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

Five AmaZulu play­ers could face heavy sanc­tions if al­le­ga­tions that they as­saulted and ver­bally abused as­sis­tant ref­eree Li­nos Hob­wane are proven. Match of­fi­cials have threat­ened to boy­cott AmaZulu matches fol­low­ing this in­ci­dent. They have urged the Premier Soc­cer League (PSL) to act on the mat­ter or they will down tools in sol­i­dar­ity with Hob­wane, who was al­legedly as­saulted by Usuthu play­ers a fort­night ago. The in­ci­dent al­legedly hap­pened af­ter AmaZulu’s 2-0 loss to Baroka FC in a Na­tional First Divi­sion (NFD) game at the Old Peter Mok­aba Sta­dium in Polok­wane on Jan­uary 9.

An eye­wit­ness told City Press Hob­wane was at­tacked and ver­bally abused by at least five AmaZulu play­ers when they walked through the sta­dium tun­nel on the way to the dress­ing rooms af­ter the fi­nal whis­tle.

“He was not only ver­bally abused [called “a cheat”] but was hit by fists and kicked on the an­kle; he had to go see the doc­tor, as he was strug­gling to walk,” said the source.

Hob­wane’s “crime” was to award a goal to Baroka af­ter AmaZulu goal­keeper Sage Stephens ap­par­ently stopped the ball with his full body be­hind the goal line, but Usuthu play­ers ar­gued the ’keeper was im­peded.

Hob­wane could not be reached for com­ment, but a source close to him said he was trau­ma­tised. Ref­er­ees are de­mand­ing the league take ac­tion against the per­pe­tra­tors.

“They should have been charged by now, as it is al­most two weeks since this hap­pened. This is in­tim­i­da­tion to us and we can­not al­low a sit­u­a­tion where play­ers and bosses at­tack our of­fi­cials,” said a ref­eree who spoke anony­mously.

PSL me­dia li­ai­son of­fi­cer Lux­olo Septem­ber said the mat­ter had been sent to the league pros­e­cu­tor.

“We have re­ceived a re­port from the match com­mis­sioner ... the con­tents of this re­port have been sent to the league pros­e­cu­tor. Once a mat­ter has been for­warded to the pros­e­cu­tor, we can­not get in­volved in that process. Un­for­tu­nately we can­not dis­cuss the con­tents of the re­port. It is not fair on the par­ties in­volved,” said Septem­ber in an emailed re­sponse on Fri­day. AmaZulu have is­sued an apol­ogy on their web­site. “We note the match com­mis­sioner’s re­port for our fix­ture ver­sus Baroka FC. We ac­cept that mem­bers of our team did com­mit some mis­de­meanours, which would have put the [league] and foot­ball in dis­re­pute. For that we un­re­servedly apol­o­gise to the league, its spon­sors and part­ners.

“We as a club have re­sumed a process of tak­ing strong ac­tion against per­pe­tra­tors of some of the mis­de­meanours ... We have re­quested footage from the league to as­sist us in es­tab­lish­ing th­ese,” read the state­ment.

It con­tin­ued, the “above apol­ogy is not an ad­mis­sion of guilt in any way. Nor is it con­cur­ring with the match com­mis­sioner’s re­port in full.”

AmaZulu me­dia li­ai­son of­fi­cer Bril­liant Nh­lanhla Mkhathini said they had not re­ceived cor­re­spon­dence from the league about the mat­ter. He said they felt the need to apol­o­gise to the league based on their play­ers’ be­hav­iour.

“We felt our play­ers did not act in a pro­fes­sional man­ner, as they dis­rupted the pro­ceed­ings dur­ing the game,” said Mkhathini. He said they had called the play­ers in and would open in­ter­nal dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings against them.

PHOTO: TREVOR KUNENE

SUR­VIVOR Or­lando Pi­rates coach Eric Tin­kler has ig­nored sup­port­ers’ calls to quit the club

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